Walking Cameras

A few years ago it was very common for prisoners to be able to pay to have their photo taken in order to send them out to family members. Some prisons also allowed this on a visit so that prisoners could have a photo of themselves with their family. However, in 2013, this was temporarily stopped by the Ministry of Justice so that they could hold a review in the wake of many prisoners uploading photos to facebook which had been taken illegally on camera phones which had been smuggled in.

The review found that the official taking of photos could continue and all prisons were notified that they could restart this procedure with immediate effect but Wakefield had different ideas and they did not restart this practice at all.

Later that year the partner of a Wakefield prisoner wrote in to Inside Time asking why Wakefield refused to take prisoners photos. The person who sent a reply for Inside Time to print was a staff officer to the Deputy Director of Custody and he wrote that prisoners can now have heir photo taken, including those at Wakefield, but that this can only usually be done on special occasions such as at the end of an offending behaviour program or on a family day visit. Since writing that letter the staff officer has changed jobs and now works here at Wakefield as a governor and as the head of residence.

This year, when I was notified that my application to attend the family day visit along with my mother was successful, I immediately applied to have a photo taken. The first form I submitted for this was a dedicated form available from the wing applications box bearing the title “Photographs of inmates for their personal use”. You can imagine my surprise then when the form was returned to me with a post-it note saying “We do not take photographs for prisoners at HMP Wakefield.” I submitted a further application explaining the situation and this time I received a reply from the family day coordinator saying she had checked with the governor and they definitely do not do photos here. Finally I spoke to the wing senior officer who told me that he would be having a meeting the following day with the very person who had written the letter to Inside Time saying photos were allowed at Wakefield on family days. I asked him to raise this with him, which he did, and he came back to tell me that the governor had told him I have to apply in writing to the governing governor in advance but that it is allowed in theory.

This is crazy. By the time I could have put an application in again, the visit would have already taken place. There was no practical opportunity to do this at all. It is something I have been considering challenging for some time, since I would love to have had an up to date photo of my me and my Mum together and it also would have been great to have had an up to date photo that I could put up on this site. However, now I think I have a better idea.

As all officers are issued with body-cams, which can be switched on and off as necessary they are becoming walking cameras. Anyone who is filmed on the prisons cameras can obtain a copy of the footage simply by making an application under the Data Protection Act. I will shortly be applying again to have a photo taken, but if this is refused I will simply approach any officer I see with their camera switched on and hold a conversation. I’ll then submit a data protection request and obtain a copy of the footage.

For me it is simple. If you don’t want to do something, don’t write in a national newspaper that that is exactly what can be done. And if you do write that, then you should expect to have to do it. Because that’s just what I’m going to make sure of.

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6 thoughts on “Walking Cameras

  1. Thanks for keeping us in the picture. Job titles seem to have changed a lot but the same frustrating petty bureaucracy seems to be eternal (and infernal). By *governing governor*, I guess you meant the Governor not Assistant Governor or Deputies.

    • Yes, I probably should have explained that there are many governors in prisons, acting as department heads for the most part, such as security governor, residential governor, segregation governor, etc. Then you have the governing governor, also known as the number 1 governor, and the deputy governor, or number 2.

  2. Hi Adam, I have been on two family days this year at Frankland. The 1st one we had our photo taken but i couldn’t have copy, only my other half could? On the 2nd one i took his mum over to visit and again we had out photo taken. This time as well as my other half i was also allowed a copy, but only one, and i had to sign a contract of data protection that i would not put it on any social media network or make any copies of it. Therefore his mum, who he has not seen in 4/5 years could not have a photo of herself with her son. Obviously.. i adhered to the rules and everyone is happy lol

    • It’s really good to hear that you’re still getting up to see him, and that you’ve managed to get on the family days. It’s a shame they have to be awkward about the photos sometimes though. You’ve noticed I now have a photo up. This was taken at another prison, not Wakefield. They still haven’t let me take one here. I’m not giving in though!

  3. Hi Adam, your blog is great, my partner is in Wakefield too and told me to read it. I am constantly nagging him about photos as I have heard other prisons do them on general visits as well as family days. It really are all the little things that make a difference. I really hope Wakefield pull their finger out on these kind of things.

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